Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Etisalat's Blackberry patch is spyware, says SMobile, which produces security packages for the handset.
Etisalat's Blackberry patch is spyware, says SMobile, which produces security packages for the handset.

Etisalat Blackberry upgrade 'spyware'

A mobile security systems firm says the Blackberry patch is spyware, so it will be deleted from handsets running its software.

Etisalat's software upgrade sent to BlackBerry users last week has been classified as "spyware" by a leading maker of mobile security systems, meaning the patch will be deleted by handsets running the company's software. SMobile, which produces one of the most popular antivirus and security packages for BlackBerry handsets, said it has updated its database of malicious code to include the Etisalat software, which the company sent to users last week as a network improvement patch.

"We did a thorough analysis at our global threat centre. No doubt about it, it was intended to intercept people's e-mail and forward it on to someone else," said Dan Hoffman, SMobile's chief technical officer. "We treat it just as any other piece of spyware ? we detect it when it's on a device and we remove it for the users." The company has seen an increasing amount of malicious software targeting BlackBerry handsets, which have become a standard for mobile e-mail among large corporations. The nature of BlackBerry users ? typically wealthy, with access to valuable information ? has made the handsets lucrative targets.

But because the devices use a powerful e-mail encryption and security system, messages sent and received on the handset are difficult for outside parties to access. This has frustrated security and law enforcement agencies, who often require network operators to provide access to interception and monitoring services. It has also challenged the ability of computer hackers to obtain the valuable confidential information contained in BlackBerry e-mails.

The solution, for both legal and illegal access, it to modify the handset, letting outside parties view e-mail information in the same unencrypted form seen by its owner. But such modifications introduce a vulnerability to the BlackBerry system, and SMobile believes this vulnerability could be exploited by others. "This Etisalat patch will forward e-mails to specific e-mail addresses," Mr Hoffman said. "A person could modify that code to make it forward messages to other addresses. Every time there is a vulnerability, people will find it and work out how to exploit it."

Carsten Brinkschulte, the chief executive of Synchronica, a UK-based maker of mobile e-mail systems, said because the Etisalat patch was sent by an approved network partner of RIM, the BlackBerry manufacturer, it was probably secure. "RIM has a certification process for applications and patches," he said. "However, on other platforms, hackers have always found ways around these barriers." tgara@thenational.ae

Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 The Greens, villas: Q1 no change. 3BR - Dh210-250,000. 4BR - Dh210-260,000. 5BR - Dh220-300,000. Q1 2013-Q1 2014 5% rise. Pawan Singh / The National

In pictures: Where Dubai rents have risen and fallen, Q1 2014

Find out how rental prices in the prime locations in Dubai have altered during the first three months of the year and the current rates you will pay according to data provided by Asteco.

 Above, the private pool of Ocean Heights' five-bedroom penthouse flat. Courtesy Christie’s International Real Estate

In pictures: Penthouse flat is height of Dubai luxury living

A five-bedroom penthouse in Ocean Heights in Dubai Marina is on sale for Dh25 million and comes with a private pool and an unparalleled view of Dubai.

 The cooling towers of the Temelin nuclear power plant near the Tyn nad Vltavou in Czech Republic. The country wants to continue expanding nuclear energy capacity despite cancelling a tender to build two new units. David W Cerny / Reuters

In pictures: Best business images for the week to April 17, 2014

Here are some of the best business images for the week to April 17, 2014.

 Three generations of the Hakimi family tend to their stall Crawford Market in Mumbai. Subhash Sharma for The National

In pictures: Shopper’s delight at Crawford Market in Mumbai

Crawford Market is an old British-style covered market dealing in just about every kind of fresh food and domestic animal imaginable. Later on renamed Mahatma Jotirao Phule, the market remains popular among locals and visitors by its old name, taken from Arthur Crawford who was the first municipal commissioner of the city.

 The Wind, Energy, Technology and Environment Exhibition takes place from April 14 to April 16. Above, the Dewa showroom during last year’s Wetex. Jaime Puebla / The National

April corporate and economic calendar for the UAE and overseas

From Cityscape to Wetex to stock-market holidays to nations reporting first-quarter GDP figures, here is our helpful calendar of April's business events in the UAE and internationally.

 Get the latest information on credit cards, bank accounts and loan products in the UAE. Mark Lennihan / AP Photo

Rates report: Latest on UAE loans, accounts and credit cards

Souqamal.com brings you the latest interest rates on banking products in the UAE.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National